Mark Collins – New USAF ICBMs/New USAF Nuke ALCM (cruise missile)

Keep in mind that nuclear weapons are still very much part of American defence:

1) At Defense Industry Dailythe start of a major article:

Missile Envy: Modernizing the US ICBM Force

August 1/16: Two contracts are to be awarded by the USAF in 2017 for a new Inter Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) weapons system, or ground-based strategic deterrent. On Friday [July 29] , the service released a request for proposals for the replacement of the existing Minutemen III ICBMs as part of the military’s costly modernization of its atomic weapons systems. The next ten years will see up to $350 billion spent on the modernization with some analysts suggesting the costs will run in excess of $1 trillion over 30 years…

2) At Flightglobal:

USAF reaches milestone A on nuclear cruise missile

The US Air Force has released a classified request for proposals to industry for the replacement of the nuclear air launched cruise missile, known as the Long Range Standoff Weapon.

The Pentagon approved Milestone A, or entry into the TMRR phase, on 28 July, USAF spokeswoman Leah Bryant said in a 29 July email to FlightGlobal. With its 29 July RFP release, the service and the Pentagon have reached the milestone A decision just before their projected August date. The USAF had expected to reach that milestone by the end of June, but the Pentagon’s top acquisition chief Frank Kendall delayed the decision after he asked the service to re-examine the cost of the missile body.

The classified RFP details the contract requirements and proposal instructions for the LRSO’s technology maturation and risk reduction phase, the air force said in a statement Friday. A maximum of two contracts will be awarded in the fourth quarter of Fiscal 2017, the USAF states.

“After receipt of industry proposals, the air force will conduct a source selection and award contracts to up to two prime contractors,” the USAF states. “The prime contractors will execute a 54-month effort to complete a preliminary design with demonstrated reliability and manufacturability, which will be followed by a competitive down-select to a single contractor.”

The service projects production by 2026 and could field the weapon by 2030, Gen. Robin Rand, chief of Air Force Global Strike Command, told this US Senate earlier this year. The air force has plans to purchase 1,000 LRSOs to replace the legacy AGM-86B air-launched cruise missile, and employ them on the B-52 [see “USAF BUFFs (almost) Forever? With the Dragon in Mind“], or…, Northrop B-2 and next-generation B-21 bomber [see “Long-Range Strike, or, New USAF Bomber: All-Singing, All-Dancing? (note “Comments”, Northrop Grumman won)”].

Although the LRSO has faced some political headwinds from Democrats in the US Congress, efforts to thwart Fiscal 2017 funding for the weapon and the life-extension program of the W-80 warhead, which will be fielded on the new missile, have proved futile.


Despite Objections, Pentagon Takes Step Toward Buying New Nuclear Weapons

From 2014:

US Announces Big Deployed Nuclear Delivery Systems Cuts

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


8 thoughts on “Mark Collins – New USAF ICBMs/New USAF Nuke ALCM (cruise missile)”

  1. Plus a new type of non-nuke cruise missile for USAF bombers:

    ‘U.S. Bomber Force Preparing Computer-Killing HPM Cruise Missiles

    The next time U.S. bombers are called into action against a major regional power, their open salvo of cruise missiles might include a new breed of microwave-energy weapon designed to systematically fry electronic devices such as computers, radars and radios.

    Unlike the powerful “E-Bombs” that were used to electrically disable targets during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and other types electromagnetic pulse weapons, these cruise missiles will travel at low altitudes along a predetermined path, firing down pulses of directed energy to wreak havoc on unshielded enemy electronics…

    The technology has been in development for many years and was successfully used in 2012 during a live-fire demonstration that took out banks of computers at the Utah Test and Training Range.

    Despite the obvious utility of this type of high-power microwave (HPM) weapon, the U.S. Air Force has been slow to adopt it as an operational capability, opting instead to keep it in the laboratory for further miniaturization and improvement.

    The winds of change, however, are beginning to blow, as Raytheon’s Ktech group in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is put on contract to refurbish the remaining two unexpended test assets for additional “testing and training.” Now Air Force Global Strike Command says it is preparing for the inevitable introduction of this type of weaponry, which could be adopted as a niche tool over the coming 5-10 years.

    The organization, responsible for training and equipping America’s 156-strong bomber force, says it is “pushing this technology through demonstrations and simulations to a level of maturity that will allow the transition to the warfighter.” An HPM cruise missile will likely be introduced first on the B-52, but the Boeing B-1B and Northrop Grumman B-2 “have not been ruled out as target platforms.” It is too early to establish an exact time line, “but we expect a fielded high-power microwave capability could be ready within the next 5-10 years,” it says…’

    Mark Collins

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